CSU to Drop Algebra Requirement for Non-Science, Math Majors in 2018

By Emily DeRuy, San Jose Mercury News - Rep: August 7, 2017

If you’re one of those students who dreads math – especially algebra – you’ll soon get a bit of a break at the California State University system.

For years, intermediate algebra had been a prerequisite for the system’s general math classes, meaning even students who weren’t majoring in math or science related fields had to complete the course before they could complete their math requirement. Beginning in the fall of 2018, students whose majors aren’t math or science heavy will be able to fulfill their math requirements without slogging through intermediate algebra first – part of a larger effort to increase graduation rates.

“What that means for students is they have more choices,” said Christine Mallon, CSU’s associate vice chancellor for academic programs and faculty development...

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SBE Approves “English Learner Roadmap” to Help More than 1.4 Million California Students

July 24, 2017

On July 12, the State Board of Education approved an “English Learner Roadmap” to help California’s more than 1,000 local school districts welcome, understand, and educate the diverse population of students who are learning English.

California has about 1.4 million students – one of every four public school students statewide – classified as English Learners. The Roadmap is the first new language policy adopted in nearly 20 years, removes outdated barriers to bilingual and multilingual instruction, and will help schools meet updated state and federal education laws and requirements.

State Board President Michael W. Kirst said passage of the roadmap marks both an end and a beginning. "With this vote, the state puts regressive policies in our past and embarks on a new, inclusive path toward ensuring California’s promise of college and career readiness for all students is fulfilled."...

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Study: Academic Motivation Suffers When Economic Mobility Seems Out of Reach

By Hilary Hurd Anyaso - Rep: July 24, 2017

New studies from Northwestern University show that high school and college students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds are much less motivated to overcome academic hardships when they have doubts about the likelihood of people from their backgrounds achieving upward mobility.

The new studies extend previous research demonstrating that low-SES students who see education as a viable path to upward mobility are more inclined to succeed in their educational pursuits despite the numerous academic barriers facing students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Prior research has shown that students from low-SES backgrounds are motivated to persist during difficult academic experiences when they feel school can concretely contribute to future socioeconomic success,” said Alexander Browman, lead author of the studies and a recent Ph.D. graduate in psychology from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern...

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Self-Affirmation Plays Role in Academic Success for Minority Students, Stanford Scholars Find

By Milenko Martinovich - Rep: July 24, 2017

Having minority middle school students write a series of self-affirmation exercises focusing on core values improved the odds that the students would pursue college tracks in school, according to Stanford scholars.

The study, which recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that after completing the self-affirmation exercises, Latino students were more likely to enter a college readiness track than a remedial one near the transition to high school and African American students were more likely to enroll in college seven to nine years later.

“Once students feel affirmed, a whole series of forces in the environment exist to help propel them forward: teachers noticing their potential more, giving them more challenging work, directing them to advanced courses,” said J. Parker Goyer, the study’s lead author and post-doctoral scholar at Stanford...

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Teaching in a Portable Classroom? Here are Technology Tips to Help Make the Best of It

July 10, 2017

Every day in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of teachers go to work in portable classrooms. These teachers and their students face challenges such as limited space and difficult access to bathrooms. With less-than-ideal acoustic design and all sorts of outside noise leaking in, students in portables can also have difficulty hearing everything the teacher says. Teachers, meanwhile, sometimes find themselves disconnected from the rest of the school. Here, a principal and a district director of technology share their solutions for making sure that every student in every type of classroom has equal access to quality education.

Aaron Duff, Principal of Freewater Elementary School

Freewater serves a diverse range of students in grades four and five. We have a total of 290 students, and we have high expectations for each and every one of them. We’ve received the state “excellence” award twice in the last four years...

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Are Today’s Students Prepared to Enter the Tech Industry?

By Maya Beasley - Rep: July 10, 2017

Half of the highest-paying jobs for college graduates are in technology, but – despite the high pay – employers struggle to fill these and other positions. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2013, there were 262,981 blacks, Hispanics, and Indian Americans ages 45 years and younger with bachelor’s or advanced degrees in computer and mathematical sciences or electrical engineering – three of several fields closely associated with high-tech jobs. They represented 18.8 percent of degree holders.

Yet, Silicon Valley’s tech workforce in 2015 was only 2.2 percent black or African American, 4.7 percent Hispanic, and 0.1 percent American Indian or Alaska Native. While the technology sector is booming, American tech graduates – especially people of color – frequently remain unemployed or shift to occupations unrelated to their degrees. As discussed in an earlier report, putting aside hiring failures and hostile environments at tech companies, there remains a widening gap between job requirements and the skills that universities provide their students, especially people of color...

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Summer Learning Happens at Home

New Research Suggests It’s Family Involvement, Not Camps or Trips, That Keeps Kids Primed for Learning All Summer

By Leah Shafer - Rep: July 10, 2017

Where’s the best place for summer learning? (Hint: Don’t look far.)

As the achievement gap has widened over the past quarter century, educators have increasingly focused on summer pastimes as both a key factor and a solution. Higher-income children are more likely to fill their days with outdoorsy camps, music and coding classes, and travel. Making those experiences more accessible to and commonplace for all children, the theory goes, can help ensure that low-income kids keep learning at the same rate.

But time spent at home, reading independently or talking about books and stories with parents, seems to have a greater influence on children’s academic growth than summer camps or vacations, new research suggests...

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Researchers Find Project-Based Learning Units Triggered Better Student Outcomes in Social Studies Classes

By Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Nell K. Duke - Rep: July 10, 2017

Social studies is often neglected in the U.S. primary grades, and although literacy typically gets lots of attention at this age, informational reading and writing often do not. As researchers long focused on social studies and informational reading and writing education in the early elementary grades, we were frustrated by this pattern of neglect, and troubled that it is even worse in high-poverty school settings. We channeled our frustration into the development of four project-based learning (PBL) units for second grade that focus on social studies and informational reading and writing. We aimed for these units to engage children in learning that was meaningful to them, was challenging, and had connections to their lives beyond school...

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Part-Day Absences, Skipped Classes Add Up — More Than It Seems, Stanford Researchers Say

By Carrie Spector - Rep: June 19, 2017

When it comes to studying absenteeism, almost all research has focused on students who miss a full day of school, not a class here and there. But skipped classes are responsible for a startling number of unexcused absences among middle- and high-school students, according to a recent study in the journal AERA Open.

“Part-day absenteeism in secondary school is extremely prevalent,” said Jing Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in economics of education at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and co-author of the report. “In fact, it explains more classes missed by students than full-day absenteeism does.”

Liu and Camille Whitney, MA/PhD ’15, tracked class-by-class attendance for more than 50,000 middle and high school students in an urban district over five years...

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U.S. Dept. of Education Launches New IDEA Website

June 19, 2017

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new website dedicated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos directed the Department to expedite the development of a new, updated and more robust site specific to the IDEA after the Department's Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 (Legacy) site experienced a prolonged outage in February due to technical issues.

"The launch of this new and improved site is a big win for children with disabilities, their families and the entire IDEA community," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "It is incumbent upon the government to provide accessible and accurate information to our citizens. That’s why one of my first actions as Secretary was to order the Department to fix and revitalize its woefully outdated IDEA site so that parents, educators and service providers could readily access the resources they need...

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